Cohort Sighting: 1971 and 1972 Plymouth Fury – Whales Among Yachts


Whoever is responsible for stenciling “Land Shark” on this ’72 Fury II should reconsider their analogy.  As the Barracuda’s big brother, the shark moniker may have seemed appropriate, but as applied to a car so blatantly out of synch with the increasing Broughamification of the time, it’s more apt to consider this softly contoured, unadorned creature as a whale swimming alongside the hulls of GM’s and Ford’s bejeweled land yachts.


Among the repeat shots on The Cohort, Chrysler Fuselage cars are surprisingly rare, given their status as mainstream models from a big three manufacturer.  But we’ve had a surprising number of them uploaded in the past few weeks, which is to say there have been three posted out of hundreds of recent contributions.  Last week, I posted a red ’73 Fury with a white vinyl top in Gran trim, but this chickpea colored ’72 Fury II is an excellent example of why not many of these cars have survived.  For most people, it’s hard to feel much love for something this plain and any appreciation of this look is difficult outside of the era’s aesthetic sensibility, unless architecture and design are things one takes seriously.  This was a very optimistic and forward-looking shape arriving at just the time that Broughamification and neoclassicism were both really taking off; suddenly, people were afraid of the future and wanted to isolate themselves in a cocoon.


Sadly, unlike buildings, cars can get thrown away without having to involve an entire demo crew.  Preserving early post-modern architecture is a fight in and of itself, but the time has finally come for its historical significance to be recognized (the loss of Prentice Hospital in Chicago, pictured above, was noticeable, but a good number people fought to keep it up).  Most of these Fuselage Furies haven’t been able to last nearly as long, on the other hand, and when it was time to scrap most of them by the mid to late 1980s, few might’ve considered how well they captured the aspirations of the society which conceived them.

Screenshot 2014-06-11 01.49.32

It’s actually a surprise to me that they made it to production with such purity of line.  While the 1971 GM B-bodies had a similar mojo, there were enough straight lines for onlookers’ eyes to latch onto, as well as a slight rearward slant to the greenhouse and a strong shoulder line to suggest capacity and speed.  The Chrysler C-bodies, it seems, were envisioned mainly as a way to make a progressive design statement and if that’s indeed what happened, Chrysler overestimated its buyers in much the same way Nissan did when penning the grilleless Infiniti Q45.  These were cars stylists could relate to, but not the general public.

Screenshot 2014-06-11 01.49.55

When the marketing and product planning folks were able to cobble together a nice, higher level trim package, like this ’71 Gran Coupe, the result wasn’t as stark, but with such bare basic models, getting people into a fully loaded car was that much more difficult.  I have no breakdown of sales by trim packages, but this car must be one of a very small handful remaining.


If it’s true that success is more a matter of circumstance than genuine effort, you could do worse than to use these two Plymouths as an example.  How else to describe the debut of cars famously sculpted to emulate the jumbo jet, right before disaster movies like Airport made a fear of flight cool again?

Thanks to WilliamRubano and Foden Alpha for uploading these famously unlucky cars.

Related reading: Fender Blades on a Fuselage: The Design of the 1973 Imperial by Chrysler